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Senator Boxer Wants US To Host Energy Summit Of Largest Polluters February 3, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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UNITED NATIONS (AP)–The head of the U.S. Senate’s environmental committee on Friday called on the White House to hold a summit grouping the 12 largest greenhouse-gas emitting nations, saying the time had come for President George W. Bush to show “real leadership” on the issue.

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s comments came on the heels of a report released Friday in Paris by a United Nations-sponsored panel of climate scientists from 113 governments, which said there was little doubt that man-made emissions are to blame for global warming.

“I’m calling on the federal government of the United States of America to be a model of energy efficiency,” said the California Democrat, who was at the U.N. for a briefing on the conflict in Darfur and the long-awaited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

“I’m calling on the president to convene a summit at the White House of the 12 largest global warming emitters,” she said, adding that she would bring over the IPCC scientists to brief all senators and their staff on the report within the next few weeks.

Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that will deal with climate legislation, said she was briefed on the report’s findings by IPCC panel’s chairman, climatologist Rajendra Pachuari of India.

Boxer’s challenge could put her on a collision course with an administration that has been criticized for its environmental record, including rejecting in 2001 the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty requiring 35 industrial nations to cut their global-warming gases by 5% on average below 1990 levels by 2012.

The Bush administration on Friday quickly voiced its continued opposition to mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman warning against “unintended consequences,” including job losses as companies shift operations abroad.

Boxer, however, said cutting emissions was a question of political will, and held up her state as a model for the country.

California has enacted a number of measures aimed at cutting emissions of heat-trapping gasses. Last month, state regulators approved rules banning power companies from buying electricity from high-polluting sources. California air regulators also enacted the U.S.’s first statewide ban of the most common chemical used by dry cleaners. Another California law, approved in 2002 but facing a court challenge from automakers, requires reductions in emissions from cars and light trucks.

On a broader level, California’s Austrian-born governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger reached an agreement with U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to develop new technologies to combat global warming. The measure imposed the first emissions cap in the U.S. on utilities, refineries and manufacturing plants in a bid to curb the gases that scientists blame for warming the Earth.

The U.S. each year contributes about a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases, though the share from China, India and other developing countries also is growing. China is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the next decade.

If all U.S. states “did what California does, we would save the energy equivalent of all of the oil that we import from the Middle East every single year,” said Boxer, repeating an often-voiced concern that the U.S. is too dependent on oil from unstable or unfriendly nations and regions.

“Energy efficiency is really the name of the game in terms of what we can do now,” she said, adding that she was disappointed that Bush did not adopt a more proactive stance on global warming, despite urging on the part of Blair.

“That’s why today I’m calling on the president to show real leadership,” she said, adding it was unacceptable to adopt a stance that other nations blamed for high greenhouse gas emissions, such as China and India, take steps first.

“We’re the ones that have created a lot of the environmental technologies, but we have lost our way and I think now the Congress is saying to the world, we’re back and we want to get back on track.”

On the crisis in the war-torn Darfur region, Boxer met with acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Alejandro Wolff, and stressed it was time for Sudan’s government to accept U.N. peacekeepers and that the U.N. should accelerate efforts to deploy those peacekeepers in the region.

Boxer said the message from the U.S. Congress to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is that: “The world is watching you… and it’s time to accept the deployment of a U.N.-led mission to stop the humanitarian suffering and to improve the security situation on the ground in Darfur.”

Al-Bashir’s government has defied a U.N. Security Council call for the underpowered African Union mission of 7,000 troops to be taken over by a U.N. operation of 22,000 peacekeepers in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed in four years of fighting.

Asked to comment on a call Friday by Chinese President Hu Jintao urging Sudan to give the U.N. a bigger role in resolving the Darfur conflict, Boxer said: “If the message the Chinese are bringing President Bashir is clear and is unequivocal that we need to move forward and they need to end this nightmare, it’s going to be very positive.”

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